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The 2010 playoff matchup between King and Sycamore was a back and forth battle won by the Spartans. This year’s contest was not as close as sixth seed Sycamore turned to running back Austin Culton for an impressive 35-13 home win on Friday and set up a Class 5A rematch against Montini, who knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
The stage was set on the second play of the game as Culton, who finished with 25 carries for 177 yards and four touchdowns, took the handoff and immediately broke two tackles before he changed direction and burst down the sidelines for a 53-yard score.
“When I got the handoff, I noticed there was a lot of penetration in the back field. I broke some tackles and changed direction and did what I had to do,” said Culton.
Eleventh seed King (6-3) responded with a 15-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Nathaniel Powell (9-16, 79 yds, 15 carries, 57 yds). The drive ate up seven minutes of clock.
But the Spartans (7-3) did knock back down. Knowing that King would bite on the play fake due to the threat posed by Culton, quarterback Devin Mottet hooked up with Ben Niemann (5 receptions, 88 yds) for a 38-yard touchdown reception on the Spartans’ next possession. Niemann was all alone striding down the middle of the field.
In the third quarter, Sycamore jammed Culton down the Jaguars’ throats. On the first possession of the second half, the Spartans went on a five minute and thirty second drive that saw Culton carry the ball five times for 36 yards, including a three-yard touchdown run, to make the score 21-7.
King answered with a prolonged drive in which the Jaguars converted on two fourth downs before Lance Robinson (17 carries, 65 yards) ran in a six-yard touchdown, but they had no answer for Sycamore’s running game. Two more touchdowns from Culton sealed the win.
“We have a lot more confidence going forward against one of the best teams in the state (Montini). We just have to keep on doing what we’re doing,” said Culton.
For King, the loss was hard to swallow.
“It’s very disappointing. We played hard but we didn’t play hard enough,” said Robinson. “A lot of dropped passes and missed blocks killed us.”